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We’ve all seen a Runyon Canyon Instagram post, complete with lithe, yoga gear-clad limbs. For those looking to see what the hype is all about or explore the City of Angels from another vantage point, we’ve tracked down the best spots for waterfall treks, hikes with proximity to Nobu Malibu and everything in between.
1. Mount Baldy
Best visited on a day-long excursion, Mount Baldy (officially known as Mount San Antonio) is the highest mountain in LA and certainly one of the most difficult hikes in the city. One favourite route for scaling this peak winds up the Baldy Bowl Ski Hut Trail – many hikers bring ski gear to bolt down after the hike in the wintertime – and continues along the Devil’s Backbone Trail. To make the absolute most of this path, get going first thing in the morning to beat the crowds and plan to head out on a clear day – that’s your best chance for views stretching all the way out to the Mojave Desert.
2. Escondido Falls
The beginning of the hike to Escondido Falls climbs up Winding Way, passing one Architectural Digest-worthy Malibu home after the other before entering the leafy Escondido Canyon Park. The walk continues through the forest, occasionally breaking up into blooming fields. After a few creek crossings, the lower waterfalls are easy to reach and a beautiful sight, but more skilled hikers shouldn’t shy away from continuing on to the upper falls which are three times as high. Adventurous souls can even make their way behind the falls to watch the water tumble down and pick the fresh mint that grows there.
3. Point Mugu State Park
Offering stunning vistas over the Pacific, this is the best place to work up a sweat before running into the cool waves below – take the Ray Miller Trail, which takes you up the craggy hills lining the beach. There are over 70 miles of hiking trails in this park, however, so don’t shy away from exploring any of those as an extension to this hike (though we prefer to stick closer to the waterfront). The switchbacks and uphill incline on this hike make it a great workout, and since Point Mugu is a little farther away from the core of Malibu than other hiking areas, you’re likely to have most of the trail all to yourself.
4. Runyon Canyon
For surrounds akin to those framing Margot Robbie as her convertible zips through the Hollywood Hills in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, nothing beats hiking Runyon Canyon Park. Whether you’re after a leisurely stroll and chat with your pals along the paved section, or want to take on the more challenging rugged path – complete with sightings of a glowy-faced Gwyneth Paltrow making her way up in Goop leggings – you’ll be rewarded with a sweeping view over the whole city, stretching out to Venice and the sea on clearer days. Make sure to peek over at the McMansions that sprawl out across the Hills next door.
5. Corral Canyon Park
Rising above the waves that crash against the Pacific Coast Highway, Corral Canyon Park is a quickly escalating hike benefitted by far-reaching views over the ocean. While the area was ravaged by the fires of summer 2018, the park’s regrowth is a vibrant green populated with bright yellow flowers. Hike complete, grab some Baja fish tacos from the seafood shack at the base of the park or, if you want to go all-out while you’re in the area, leave a change of clothes in the car and opt for a slightly dressier lunch on the nearby pier or at Nobu Malibu.
6. Griffith Park
For a hike straight out of La La Land, explore this park as your make your way to the Griffith Observatory in time for golden hour. If you’re hoping for a longer journey, start at the observatory and make your way to the Hollywood sign, the overall trip coming out to about 7 or 8 miles, depending on whether you choose to climb over Mount Hollywood. The park is the largest green space in the city – there is also an abandoned zoo to explore as well as horse riding trails and tennis courts.
7. Echo Mountain
Situated in Altadena, Echo Mountain is an Angeleno favourite. Hike the mountain by way of the Sam Merrill Trail, which begins by crossing over a ravine and turns into a series of winding switchbacks with a relatively steep incline – you’ll be towering above Altadena and Pasadena in no time. Walk past the historical ruins of Mount Lowe Railway, which once linked the mountain resort to the city, and you’ll find yourself at the top of the trail, where picnic benches overlook Downtown LA and the Pacific. Make sure to pack some snacks to enjoy while you watch the city light up at sunset – the trail is open at night, making it an easy early evening hike back down afterwards.
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